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Equatorial Palm Oil holds back on development pending HCS study

LONDON (ShareCast) - Shares (Berlin: DI6.BE - news) in Equatorial Palm Oil (LSE: PAL.L - news) said it has agreed to take part in a global study on responsible land usage by palm oil operators, resulting in some delays to land developments. The independent high carbon stock (HCS) study is a key component of the Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto, which has been signed by major palm oil industry groups including EPO's owner Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad and Sime Darby Plantation.

AIM-listed EPO will not develop any new areas of land during the period of the study but insisted that it still intended to plant 1,000 hectares before the end of September 2015.

This land was previously planted with oil palm before the Liberian civil wars and cleared for replanting in 2014 although not yet planted due to the Ebola virus.

Executive director Geoffrey Brown said: "EPO is committed to the HCS study that is being undertaken. The study will help to shed light both on the biophysical and socio-economic dimensions of what is a critical area of enquiry, taking a fully integrated approach in order to address the concerns of all stakeholders, including those of NGOs, local communities and governments." He added that the board was encouraged by news that cases of Ebola in Liberia have significantly diminished, though admitted "the greatest fear is that complacency sets in".